April 15th Daily Update
As of Thursday evening, there are over 138.3 million coronavirus cases and over 2.9 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 31.5 million cases and over 564,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 47,000 people hospitalized in the U.S.
The first stimulus payments in the U.S. were sent out a year ago today. $1,200 checks were distributed to most Americans, followed by $600 checks, and finally, $1,400 checks. The IRS is now nearly finished distributing the $1,400 stimulus checks. The year of assistance appears to have worked: economic experts estimate that stimulus checks lifted more than 10 million people out of poverty. Lawmakers, especially Democrats, are pushing for more checks in the form of ongoing, recurring payments, but there are no concrete plans yet.
Meanwhile, small businesses throughout the U.S. continue to apply for aid to help them ride out the pandemic. The SBA's EIDL loan program is now open for loans of up to $500,000. We reported on the pros and cons of an increased EIDL loan on the blog today.
- The "pause" of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could have wide-reaching global implications; public health experts are concerned it will lead to significant vaccine hesitancy in developing nations as well as the U.S.
- While 2/3 of U.S. Democrats have reported already receiving at least one dose of the vaccine, 45% of Republicans have stated that they don't plan to get vaccinated. The data suggests that the Biden Administration's vaccine outreach has not been as successful with Republicans.
- A leading member of Japan's government stated today that the country would consider canceling the Olympic games if coronavirus cases didn't get under control, but immediately walked back his statement and said that the event would go on as planned.
- For the first time, Canada's daily per capita COVID-19 cases have increased more than the United States. It brought the country's prime minister, Trudeau, under fire over his handling of the pandemic and especially over vaccination rates, which have been much slower in Canada than the U.S.
- The CEO of Pfizer said today that he expects most people will need to get a booster shot between 6 and 12 months after their second dose of the company's COVID-19 vaccine. Data shows that Pfizer's vaccine protects recipients for at least 6 months, but longer than that is unknown.
Wednesday April 14th Daily Update
As of Wednesday evening, there are over 137.5 million coronavirus cases and over 2.9 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 31.3 million cases and over 562,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 43,000 people hospitalized in the U.S.
All fifty states, D.C. and Puerto Rico have ceased distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine until federal regulators declare it safe. The U.S. government recommended "pausing" the vaccine following reports of rare blood clots that could be caused by the shot. An advisory committee for the CDC met today to discuss the vaccine, but did not vote or take action. The pause will be extended at least a week until their next meeting. We have the latest J&J news on the blog today.
Meanwhile, cases, hospitalization rates, and deaths are on the rise in the U.S., driven partially by young, unvaccinated people. After-school sports seem to be particularly risky, with both individual cases and large clusters reported from games and practices.
- With 100 days remaining before the Olympics, cases are on the rise in Japan, where the games are scheduled to be held. Officials are trying to manage spread with restrictions in time for the event.
- New York City officials are planning to keep most vaccine appointments for Johnson & Johnson doses, and provide patients with Pfizer or Moderna instead.
- Researchers in the U.K. are investigating the safety of mixing two different vaccine doses for two-shot vaccines, using one for the first shot and another for the second. It could help manage vaccine rollout when supplies for one vaccine run short.
- Research is showing that "zoom fatigue", exhaustion from video calls, is impacting workers worldwide, and women are experiencing it much worse than men. Several large companies have declared "zoom free days" in response to continued frustration from employees.
Tuesday April 13th Daily Update
As of Tuesday evening, there are over 137 million coronavirus cases and over 2.9 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 31.3 million cases and over 562,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 43,000 people hospitalized in the U.S.
Most of the U.S. paused use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine today at the recommendation of federal regulators, who are investigating six cases of blood clots among the millions of doses of the vaccine distributed in the country so far. Federal vaccine sites, as well as many states and D.C., will not be distributing the single-shot vaccine until after the CDC and FDA finish their investigation. We covered the news and how it could impact the country's overall vaccine rollout on the blog today.
Meanwhile, virus cases are surging in the upper Midwest and Northeast, even as other regions appear to be keeping the pandemic at bay (including the South, which has been a hotspot in the past). Experts aren't sure exactly what is causing the discrepancy, which doesn't align with vaccination rates. It's possible that reduced testing in some states is falsely suppressing data and masking the virus's spread.
- The CDC is investigating "breakthrough" cases of COVID-19 reported among fully vaccinated individuals. No vaccine is 100% protective, so some people have come down with the virus after being vaccinated. Some have had mild cases, but a few have had severe or even fatal cases.
- For the second time, millions of Muslims across the world began celebrating Ramadan today in the midst of the pandemic. Unlike last year, however, parts of the world, including the Middle East, have reopened stores and mosques with restrictions.
- All NFL support staff, like coaches and trainers, will be required to get vaccinated in order to interact with players in any way (who are encouraged but not yet required to get vaccinated). It's one of the strictest examples yet of employer vaccination protocols.
- Even as vaccinations progress, cases have remained alarmingly high in New York City for weeks. Public health experts are pointing to variants as a possible cause, with between 4 and 8% of New York's cases expected to be caused by variants.
Monday April 12th Daily Update
As of Monday evening, there are over 136.2 million coronavirus cases and over 2.9 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 31.2 million cases and over 561,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 43,000 people hospitalized in the US.
16 months into the pandemic, the virus is still spreading rapidly throughout the world. Today, the WHO said that the pandemic's trajectory is "growing exponentially", with more than 4 million cases reported last week and overall global cases more than 8 times higher than a year ago. Cases in the U.S. are not growing as quickly as other nations like India and France, which are battling brutal waves of the virus, but U.S. cases have been ticking upward (especially in hotspots like Michigan).
Meanwhile, our team is continuing to cover small business news and insights to help business owners ride out this challenging time. Today on the Skip Blog, we have a guide to the Employee Retention Tax Credit, which could help small businesses save over $30,000 per employee. We also have a new YouTube video today, breaking down the latest in EIDL distribution news.
- The governor of Michigan requested more vaccine doses to help the state battle its brutal outbreak, but CDC director Rochelle Walensky said today that shutting down the state would be a more effective immediate solution.16 of the country's 17 most impacted metropolitan areas are in Michigan. “The answer is not necessarily to give vaccine. The answer to that is to really close things down, to go back to our basics, to go back to where we were last spring, last summer, and to shut things down," said Walensky.
- Over 50,000 New York City public school students will be allowed to return to the classroom after a year of remote learning, including middle and high school students. The students will be allowed to return to school on April 26th. Previously, the city only allowed elementary school students to return to the classroom.
- After three months of lockdown, Britain reopened much of its economy today, allowing shops, some outdoor bars and restaurants, and hair salons to reopen. Britain has experienced one of the longest and most stringent lockdowns on earth.
- India now has the second-highest caseload in the world, after the U.S. Public health experts are concerned that cases in India will continue to spike after a Hindu pilgrimage on the banks of the Ganges River this week.
Friday April 9 Daily Update
As of Friday evening, there are over 134.2 million coronavirus cases and over 2.9 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 31 million cases and over 560,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 43,000 people hospitalized in the US.
As states reopen, vaccines progress and stimulus checks arrive, pent-up demand is causing economic inflation in the U.S. Gasoline prices increased 8.8% in March. Economists hope that the increase will be brief, however, and that prices will stabilize.
Meanwhile, more nations are reopening to fully vaccinated American tourists, including Ecuador and Guatemala. You can view the full list of nations open to vaccinated Americans here.
- Allocations of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are expected to plunge 86% next week, and supply will remain low until production is approved at a Baltimore plant currently under federal investigation.
- Pfizer is requesting approval to give their vaccine to adolescents between 12 and 15. Trials showed the vaccine was even more effective in adolescents and had no adverse effects.
- Three states have halted operations at Johnson & Johnson vaccine sites due to adverse reactions: North Carolina, Georgia and Colorado.
- ICUs in Michigan are nearing capacity as the state battles a deadly wave of the virus, likely driven by variants.
- Covax, the initiative to distribute vaccine doses to low-income nations, has distributed only 38 million doses so far, falling significantly short of the 100 million doses promised.
Thursday April 8 Daily Update
As of Thursday evening, there are over 133.6 million coronavirus cases and over 2.8 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 31 million cases and over 559,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 43,000 people hospitalized in the US.
The next group of eligible recipients expected to receive $1,400 stimulus checks are veterans who are not required to file taxes. They should receive their payments on April 14th, according to the IRS. Non-filing veterans are the latest group of federal beneficiaries to whom the IRS has announced plans to distribute checks, with many social security recipients receiving the funds this week.
In addition to individual stimulus checks, more small business aid programs continue to open for applications. The SBA's Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, or SVO Grant, opened for applications today. The SVO is a grant program for entertainment venues that have been shut down during the pandemic. You can learn more about the SVO program and how to apply here.
- The state of Florida has sued the CDC to allow cruise ships to begin sailing again, a year after they were ordered to cease sailing at all U.S. ports.
- Reports are showing that online shops are selling fake COVID vaccination record cards. Businesses and local authorities are requiring proof of vaccination to participate in activities.
- Several more countries, including Belgium, have decided to pause use of the AstraZeneca vaccine amidst reports of blood clots.
- A delay in Johnson & Johnson vaccine shipments has hampered U.S. military vaccinations abroad.
- Eight U.S. colleges and universities have now announced that they will be requiring students to be vaccinated to return in the fall.
Wednesday April 7 Daily Update
As of Wednesday evening, there are over 132.8 million coronavirus cases and over 2.8 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 30.9 million cases and over 558,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 43,000 people hospitalized in the US.
About 25 million more Americans received $1,400 stimulus checks today, as the IRS distributed another batch of checks to eligible recipients. In total, 156 million payments have now been distributed. About 19 million of today's payments went to Social Security beneficiaries, whose payments were delayed because the IRS didn't have the proper information to distribute them.
In addition to stimulus distribution, the U.S. continues to make significant vaccine progress and all adults are expected to be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by April 19th; on the blog today we have a guide with tips and tricks for finding an appointment.
The SBA's Economic Injury Disaster Loan program is now open for increased loans of up to $500,000, and recipients who received smaller loans can request more money. We have a guide to the process, including a prepopulated email that can be sent to the SBA, on the blog today.
- A highly contagious coronavirus variant that was first discovered in Britain, the B.1.1.7 variant, is now the dominant variant strain in the U.S., according to CDC director Rochelle Walensky.
- 1 in 3 coronavirus patients were diagnosed with a psychiatric or neurological condition within six months after their COVID diagnosis, according to new research.
- Young people are largely driving the COVID-19 surge in Michigan, and many are becoming more severely ill, requiring hospitalization and occasionally even dying from the disease.
- Half of all U.S. COVID cases are being reported from just five states: New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Michigan and Florida.
- 1 in 4 Americans don't want to get vaccinated, according to an NPR poll, threatening herd immunity.
Tuesday April 6 Daily Update
As of Tuesday evening, there are over 132.2 million coronavirus cases and over 2.8 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 30.8 million cases and over 555,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 41,000 people hospitalized in the US.
President Biden announced today that the deadline for states to open coronavirus vaccine eligibility to all adults over 16 has been moved up to April 19th, from the original deadline of May 1st. Most states had already announced that they would be allowing all adults to get vaccinated in April.
Meanwhile, small business owners across the U.S. are continuing to be approved for PPP loans. Over $200 billion has now been distributed from over 5,000 lenders. We covered the latest PPP news and other updates on YouTube.
The rest of today's coronavirus news updates are below, and we hope your week is going well.
- The state of California will reopen June 15th, with few restrictions besides a statewide mask mandate, if the state's metrics continue to improve.
- The governor of Texas has issued an executive order prohibiting businesses, local authorities, and government agencies from requiring proof of vaccination for certain activities.
- Cases are spiking rapidly in Minnesota, worrying health officials. The spike is driven by an increase in variant cases, similar to the situation in Michigan, which is now one of the country's worst hotspots.
- An expert at the European Medicine Agency has confirmed that blood clots are a real side effect of the AstraZeneca vaccine, albeit a rare one.
- Saudi Arabia will restrict access to Mecca during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan to only those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19.
Monday April 5 Daily Update
As of Monday evening, there are over 131.5 million coronavirus cases and over 2.8 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 30.7 million cases and over 554,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 40,000 people hospitalized in the US.
Some Americans will receive a fourth stimulus payment, called a "plus up payment". Plus up payment recipients are people who did not receive the full amount they were owed on their third stimulus check because they didn't file their 2020 taxes before their payments were disbursed. Those whose income dropped in 2020 as compared to 2019, or who had a child in 2020, will receive the payments to "top off" their stimulus checks after their 2020 taxes are filed.
Meanwhile, Targeted EIDL grant disbursements are finally beginning to pick up. We covered the news on our YouTube channel.
- At least five U.S. colleges will require students to be vaccinated prior to returning to campus in the fall.
- Rather than the recommended 3 weeks, Walgreens has been scheduling patients' second vaccine doses 4 weeks apart. Following complaints, the pharmacy chain will now follow the recommended timeline.
- The CDC has now updated their guidance for cleaning household surfaces, saying that soap and water is sufficient in most situations rather than disinfecting sprays or wipes.
- More than half of the Vancouver Canucks NHL team has been sidelined after an outbreak on the team.
- A new, far lower-cost vaccine is currently entering clinical trials in Brazil, Mexico, Thailand, and Vietnam. If successful, the vaccine could change the course of the pandemic.
Friday April 2 Daily Update
As of Friday evening, there are over 129.9 million coronavirus cases and over 2.8 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 30.5 million cases and over 553,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 41,000 people hospitalized in the US.
The IRS has now distributed 130 million $1,400 stimulus checks, worth about $335 billion. The majority of those were either direct deposits or paper checks, but a few recipients received pre-loaded debit cards. More funds remain to be sent, and the IRS has stated that additional batches will go out over the coming weeks.
The CDC revised their guidance for vaccinated people today to account for travel, stating that vaccinated people do not need to quarantine or be tested before or after traveling domestically. We have a full guide to the CDC's recommendations up on the blog.
Meanwhile, Americans are preparing for tax season; taxes have been delayed until May 17th this year, but when the deadline arrives, some may be hit with a hefty bill for income taxes on their unemployment benefits. The latest stimulus package included a provision to make $10,000 worth of unemployment benefits tax-exempt, but 13 states are charging taxes on unemployment anyway. We have a post on what you need to know about unemployment and your taxes up on the blog today.
- Coronavirus testing is down significantly in some parts of the U.S., mainly the Great Plains and the South, and experts are concerned it could be masking the spread of the virus and making cases seem lower than they are.
- As it continues to battle a severe outbreak of the virus, France has entered a third national lockdown amidst widespread complaint. Cases are soaring, and vaccination rates in the country are low.
- The governor of Florida has banned local authorities and businesses from requiring "vaccine passports", or proof of vaccination.
- As the EU struggles to vaccinate its population, many Europeans are losing faith in the coalition, which has long been touted to offer benefits to member states.
- Johnson & Johnson has begun testing their vaccine in adolescents, bolstering hope for vaccines to become available for children this summer.
Thursday April 1 Daily Update
As of Thursday evening, there are over 128.9 million coronavirus cases and over 2.8 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 30.4 million cases and over 551,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 40,000 people hospitalized in the US.
15 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine doses were ruined by a subcontracting manufacturer for the company in Baltimore, which mixed up the ingredients for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine with the AstraZeneca vaccine. The mistake will delay future shipments of the vaccine but has not impacted any doses already distributed. It's a major embarrassment for Johnson & Johnson, whose one-shot vaccine has sped up vaccine rollout in the U.S. significantly.
President Biden unveiled a sweeping, $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan yesterday that could transform the country's transportation, education, and public service sectors. We have a post on the Skip blog today breaking down the bill's major areas and how much money is allocated for each.
Millions of $1,400 stimulus checks are still being distributed, but some who owe private debt collectors may never see their checks. We have a guide to private debt collectors and stimulus funds on the blog today.
- Although many Western states have yet to see the feared "fourth wave" of COVID-19, cases are ticking upward, and in some places surging, on the East Coast and in parts of the Midwest. Michigan is experiencing its worst outbreak since the pandemic began.
- Pakistan is unveiling an unusual approach to vaccination: allowing patients to purchase doses privately, rather than waiting their turn in line.
- Today is Opening Day for Major League Baseball in the U.S., and fans are returning to the stands for the first time in over a year. The Texas Rangers opened their stadium to full capacity, despite President Biden's warnings that it was "not responsible", and "a mistake".
- Some healthcare workers in Italy are refusing to be vaccinated, causing a rash of outbreaks across the country's hospitals.
- 30% of the U.S. population has now received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- New research shows that the Pfizer vaccine likely offers protection for at least six months, and possibly for years.
Wednesday March 31 Daily Update
As of Wednesday evening, there are over 128.4 million coronavirus cases and over 2.8 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 30.4 million cases and over 551,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 40,000 people hospitalized in the US.
Social Security recipients should receive their $1,400 stimulus checks on April 7th, according to the IRS. In total, about thirty million checks should be delivered that day. The payments will arrive electronically, and hopefully provide welcome relief for many low-income Social Security recipients.
Meanwhile, cases continue to tick upward in the U.S. Deaths are still decreasing, but cases have increased 11% over the past two weeks. Health experts think it's a combination of variants spreading and premature reopening in states where vaccination isn't far enough along.
Yesterday, President Biden officially signed the PPP extension into law, which will allow the program to remain open until the end of May. We covered the news on the Skip Blog.
- Pfizer has concluded their vaccine trial for adolescents between 12 and 15 years old, and the results show that the vaccine may even be more effective in children than adults: in the trial, the vaccine was 100% effective and caused no significant side effects.
- New York State has unveiled an app that will allow people to prove that they are fully vaccinated or recently tested negative for COVID-19 in order to assist in the state's reopening efforts.
- Doctors in Paris are concerned that their hospitals are becoming overrun, as a third wave of COVID-19 rages in France. Hospitals are so full they may soon be unable to treat all patients.
- As the rest of Europe debates placing residents under another lockdown, in Spain live event promoters are experimenting with concerts: a 5,000-person concert was held in Barcelona on Saturday, which so far has been linked to 6 cases.
- Facebook has frozen the account of Nicolas Maduro, the president of Venezuela, for sharing misinformation about COVID-19.
- Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator under Mr. Trump, said on CNN Sunday that the administration's handling of the pandemic had cost the U.S. hundreds of thousands of lives, and that deaths "could have been mitigated or decreased substantially".
Tuesday March 30th Daily Update
As of Tuesday evening, there are over 127.7 million coronavirus cases and over 2.7 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 30.3 million cases and over 550,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 40,000 people hospitalized in the US.
60 legislators sent a letter to President Biden today urging him to include funding for more, recurring stimulus checks in his next upcoming infrastructure and economy bill, the Build Back Better Plan. We covered the news on our YouTube channel.
Meanwhile, despite rising cases in some parts of the country, states continue to reopen and lift restrictions. In Arkansas, the governor announced today that the state's mask mandate on Wednesday, joining other states such as Texas and Mississippi.
- Almost half of all the population over 65 in the U.S has been vaccinated, and about 16% of the general population is fully vaccinated.
- Pakistan is struggling with another wave of the virus, and among those infected are the country's prime minister and senior-level officials in the country.
- Today the White House accused China of hampering the World Health Organization's investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 virus.
- Austria is in talks with Russia to order doses of the country's Sputnik V vaccine. In total, the country hopes to purchase a million doses.
- A new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation has found that vaccine coverage is highest in areas of the U.S. that already have low transmission rates, and those areas most in need are actually receiving the least doses.
Monday March 29th Daily Update
As of Monday evening, there are over 127.3 million coronavirus cases and over 2.7 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 30.3 million cases and over 549,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 39,000 people hospitalized in the US.
The CDC extended the U.S. federal eviction moratorium today, just days shy of its expiration, until June 30th. The moratorium prevents landlords from evicting people who have been impacted by COVID-19, provided that they fill out a form from the CDC website stating that they are unable to pay rent due to the pandemic. Some housing advocates say that the moratorium doesn't go far enough, however, as some landlords have been able to find loopholes to evict tenants. The moratorium also doesn't cancel rent, just prevents evictions, leaving millions vulnerable to "rent debt" after it expires.
Meanwhile, the President today urged states to reinstate their mask mandates and other restrictions as cases have spiked in some areas. Rochelle Walensky, the director of the CDC, said she felt a sense of "impending doom" and begged people to follow health directives.
"I am asking you to just hold on a little longer, to get vaccinated when you can, so that all of those people that we all love will still be here when this pandemic ends,” she said at a White House briefing.
- According to President Biden, 90% of U.S. adults should be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in April, rather than the original target of May 1.
- After being in lockdown since January, Britain, which has now vaccinated 30 million residents, has begun slowly lifting restrictions, allowing up to two households to gather outdoors for the first time in months.
- Johnson & Johnson will supply their one-shot vaccine to the African Union, the company announced today. 220 million doses total will be distributed.
- The results of the WHO's investigation into the origins of COVID-19 are inconclusive. The 124-page report the organization released today doesn't provide concrete evidence of the disease's origins, which the team was unable to find in their time in Wuhan, China.
- All adults in New York will be eligible for the coronavirus vaccine on April 6th.
- Students have returned to in-person school in Long Beach, California, the largest district yet to reopen in a state where most students are still distance learning.
Friday March 25 Daily Update
As of Friday evening, there are over 125.7 million coronavirus cases and over 2.7 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 30.1 million cases and over 546,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 40,000 people hospitalized in the US.
According to a new report from the U.S. Department of Labor, new jobless claims last week dropped to the lowest they have been since March of 2020. There were 684,000 new jobless claims last week, the first time since the start of the pandemic that they have dropped below 700,000. Although there are certainly multiple factors at play, the vaccine rollout and stimulus funding are understood to be key to the job market's recovery. You can read about the news in our latest blog post.
Unfortunately, not everyone who has received funding from U.S. stimulus programs is legitimate. The U.S. Department of Justice announced today that they have charged 474 individuals with fraud for schemes to take advantage of COVID-19 aid programs like the PPP, unemployment benefits and EIDL loans. Some have been accused of submitting fraudulent or false applications, while others have been charged with inflating payroll costs or unemployment fraud.
In addition to the day's news, we wanted to share an exciting update from our team: as part of our continued effort to support individuals and small businesses, today we launched our new #SkipforGood grants. We've been donating revenue for 7 months to help others, but we're expanding to distribute $500 grants for individuals and small businesses 3 times per week. You can learn more about our grants and how to apply here.
- Experts expect that the U.S.' vaccine supply could outpace demand by Mid-May, and are trying to determine what to do with the possible extra doses to prevent them from spoiling.
- Kenya has placed strict restrictions on its capital, Nairobi, and surrounding counties as the country battles a third wave of COVID-19.
- A childcare center in Nebraska has been linked to a COVID-19 outbreak of at least 100 cases. The state is urging all childcare workers to get vaccinated to prevent future outbreaks.
- The WHO has completed their investigation into the origin of COVID-19, and the results of their report are expected to be released within days.
- All but two states, Arkansas and New York, now have released plans for when they will open vaccine eligibility to all adults over 16.
- A record 3.38 million vaccine doses were distributed in the U.S. today.
Thursday March 25 Daily Update
As of Thursday evening, there are over 125 million coronavirus cases and over 2.7 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 30 million cases and over 545,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 39,000 people hospitalized in the US.
Thirty million Americans could now be able to receive their stimulus checks. The IRS received information early this morning from the Social Security Administration on recipients, which should clear the way for the IRS to distribute checks to Americans receiving Social Security. Many Social Security recipients are not required to file taxes, so their information was not on file with the IRS.
Meanwhile, small business owners got two major wins today. The U.S Senate voted to extend the PPP until the end of May, and the SBA has dramatically increased loan limits for the EIDL program. Both changes should help small business owners receive much-needed funds.
- Despite the accelerated pace of vaccinations, case counts in the U.S. have plateaued and experts are concerned about another wave of the virus.
- Amazon will be launching employees of some warehouses on site, the company announced.
- Rutgers University in New Jersey will require all students to be vaccinated before returning to campus next fall, one of the first U.S. educational institutions to do so.
- All adults over 16 will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine in California April 15th. Adults over 50 will be eligible April 1.
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is hoping to vaccinate enough theater workers to reopen Broadway by September.
- President Biden has set a new goal to reach 200 million vaccinations in his first 100 days.
- Pfizer has begun vaccine trials to test their vaccine's safety and efficacy on children under 12.
Wednesday March 24 Daily Update
As of Wednesday evening, there are over 124.4 million coronavirus cases and over 2.7 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 30 million cases and over 544,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 39,000 people hospitalized in the US.
More than 25% of U.S. adults have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine as of today. 14% of U.S adults are fully vaccinated. The pace of vaccination in the U.S. is now much faster than many other countries, and about 2.5 million vaccines are being distributed per day. However, cases are rising in 27 states, and the overall caseload increased in the U.S. this week for the first time in 9 weeks. Variants and rapid reopening in some parts of the country are threatening the U.S.' fragile progress.
Meanwhile, as small business owners await promised government stimulus programs such as the Restaurant Relief Fund and Shuttered Venue Operators Grant, many are turning to private grants to meet their needs. On the Skip Blog today, we have 6 tips for strengthening grant applications to up your chances of getting funding.
- Brazil recorded over 3,200 deaths from the virus yesterday, its highest since the pandemic began. Meanwhile in the Middle East, Iraq reported its highest number of cases so far, over 6,000.
- Uruguay, an early pandemic success story with few cases, has experienced a surge in recent weeks. The South American country will go under new restrictions until April 12th.
- Moncef Slaoui, who headed the Trump administration's vaccine effort Operation Warp Speed, has been fired from his position at biotech company GlaxoSmithKline due to sexual misconduct allegations.
- France's culture minister has been hospitalized for COVID-19, the second senior member of the country's government to be hospitalized and the latest in a slew of cases in French public officials. The country is battling an uptick in cases.
- The EPA will review attacks on science under the Trump Administration, it announced today. The agency will make a list of decisions that could have been impacted by political affiliations in the course of Trump's term.
- More than 40 states are expected to meet or even beat the President's goal of universal vaccine eligibility for adults by May 1.
- According to Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, about 75% of students in the U.S. have returned to in-person classroom learning in some capacity, significant progress toward the Biden Administration's goal of returning students to school fully this spring.
Tuesday March 23 Daily Update
As of Tuesday evening, there are over 123.9 million coronavirus cases and over 2.7 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 29.9 million cases and over 543,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 38,000 people hospitalized in the US.
Another round of $1,400 stimulus checks is expected to be distributed to recipients tomorrow. Some pending deposits may show up tonight. About 90 million payments have already been distributed, but since 85% of Americans qualify for the payments, including children, there are many more still to be distributed. We covered the news in a YouTube video below.
Meanwhile, states across the U.S. continue to vastly broaden their vaccine eligibility to everyone over 16, including Georgia, Utah, parts of Arizona, Alaska, Mississippi, and West Virginia. The vaccine rollout has reduced cases in many parts of the country, but variants have complicated the U.S. COVID recovery, and cases were on the rise in 21 states as of today.
- Only a day after AstraZeneca's vaccine trial results were released, U.S. health officials have questioned the integrity of the company's research, saying that the trial may have relied on "outdated information", and "cherry-picked data".
- Germany will enter a strict, 5-day lockdown over Easter to prevent further spread as the country battles a dangerous third wave.
- The mayor of Miami Beach, Florida has placed the city under curfew for three weeks as spring break crowds threaten to cause a surge in cases.
- Florida has become the first U.S state to report 1,000 known cases of coronavirus variants. The country's total known variant cases have roughly doubled since March 9th.
- One in four Americans has directly witnessed someone blaming Asian-Americans for the coronavirus pandemic in the last several weeks, according to a new poll. Hate crimes against Asian-Americans have skyrocketed in the last year.
- An antibody treatment developed by the pharmaceutical company Regeneron sharply cut the risk of hospitalization and death for high-risk COVID-19 patients in a clinical trial, the company announced today. There is a growing body of evidence that antibody treatments, which help mimic the body's natural immune response, are effective in treating high-risk patients.
- After nearly 10% of the Idaho House of Representatives tested positive for the virus, the state's legislature is going into a two-week recess.
Monday March 22 Daily Update
As of Monday evening, there are over 123.4 million coronavirus cases and over 2.7 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 29.8 million cases and over 542,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 38,000 people hospitalized in the US.
Isabel Guzman was sworn in as the new head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) today, in a small ceremony with her family and Vice President Kamala Harris. Guzman has already promised to make coronavirus aid programs like the PPP and EIDL more accessible for the smallest businesses and, as a Latina entrepreneur herself, Guzman has spoken about the need to prioritize underfunded business owners like women and people of color. Business advocates are hopeful that Guzman will expedite distribution of funds such as Targeted EIDL Grants, which have yet to reach most eligible business owners. Guzman said in her confirmation hearing that COVID-19 recovery was her first priority. You can learn more about Guzman's background with our latest blog post.
The SBA also released information today about the Shuttered Venue Operators (SVO) grant program for entertainment venues, stating that the program would begin accepting applications on April 8th. You can learn more about the SVO with our blog post here, and be sure to check out our coverage of the news in our YouTube video below.
- The AstraZeneca vaccine's U.S. trial showed the inoculation to be safe and effective, completely preventing serious outcomes and preventing 79% of symptomatic infections. Despite concerns that the vaccine causes blood clots, no serious side effects were found. The vaccine may not even be necessary for the U.S., however, since the three vaccines already authorized will likely provide enough supply for all adults in the country.
- All residents over 16 are now eligible for the vaccine in West Virginia, while in New York all residents over 50 now qualify.
- The mayor of Miami Beach, Florida has placed the city under curfew for three weeks as spring break crowds threaten to cause a surge in cases.
- India is facing a sharp uptick in COVID-19 cases, as well as vaccine hesitance among its population.
- For the rest of 2021, anyone who shows their vaccination card at a Krispy Kreme donut shop can receive a free glazed donut. It's part of the corporation's ongoing COVID-19 response, along with donating donuts to healthcare workers and hospitals.
- Microsoft will open back up their offices in Redmond, Washington to some nonessential employees on Monday, one of the first large companies to do so.
Friday March 19 Daily Update
As of Friday evening, there are over 122 million coronavirus cases and over 2.6 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 29.7 million cases and over 539,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 40,000 people hospitalized in the US.
When President Biden took office on January 20th, he vowed to reach 100 million vaccine doses before his 100th day in office. The U.S. reached that goal today, ahead of Biden's target. Despite the progress, cases remain stubbornly high in some parts of the U.S., and overall daily cases have plateaued at about 55,000 cases per day.
More guidance continues to be released for small business owners waiting on relief from the latest stimulus package. Event and entertainment businesses, particularly hard-hit by the pandemic, will now be eligible for both the PPP and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVO), a program specifically for live event coordinators. You can learn more about the SVO with our guide up on the blog today.
Meanwhile, the world continues to open up for vaccinated Americans: vaccinated travelers can now enter Iceland, the first EU member country to open their borders to the U.S. in over a year.
- The CDC has updated their guidance for elementary schools, saying that schoolchildren do not need to be kept six feet apart if they are wearing masks and if proper ventilation is installed. Instead, the agency is encouraging schools to distance students by 3 feet. For space-strapped schools, especially in urban areas, the guidance is welcome news.
- An FBI investigation is underway to determine whether New York governor Andrew Cuomo provided false data on deaths from COVID-19 in nursing homes.
- Boris Johnson received a dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. After ceasing use of the vaccine due to blood clot issues, most European countries are now using it again. "Getting the jab is the best thing we can do to get back to the lives we miss so much," said the Prime Minister.
- The traditional Easter Egg Roll at the White House has once again been canceled due to the pandemic. Instead of the usual celebration, the Biden Administration will send out commemorative eggs to vaccination sites and hospitals.
- Trump's beach club, Mar-a-Lago, has been partially closed after a COVID-19 outbreak. It's not known exactly how many cases are involved.
- U.S. gasoline prices are rebounding after many months of suppressed demand, indicating that people are once again moving throughout the country more freely.
Thursday March 18 Daily Update
As of Thursday evening, there are over 121.4 million coronavirus cases and over 2.6 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 29.6 million cases and over 537,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 41,000 people hospitalized in the US.
Democrats in the U.S. Senate introduced a bill today that would make it illegal for private debt collectors to seize $1,400 stimulus checks. A similar bill was passed last year to protect the $1,200 checks distributed as part of the CARES Act. Sherrod Brown, the chairman of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, was integral to authoring the bill. "We passed the American Rescue Plan to put money in people’s pockets so they can pay their bills, not to line the pockets of predatory private debt collectors," he said.
Meanwhile, applications for rental assistance are finally open in some larger states, including California. You can view our guide to rental assistance programs throughout the country here. Plans are also underway to launch new aid programs developed as part of the stimulus package, including a relief program for restaurants and bars and new PPP funding and expanded eligibility. We covered the soon-to-be-available small business funding in today's YouTube video.
The rest of today's important coronavirus news is below, and we hope your week is going well.
📌New Grants Have Arrived. Our teams reported on several new grant programs on our app as part of our ongoing grants & loan effort. On our app, click See Grant Opportunities to learn more.
- The U.S. emergency management agency, FEMA, announced today that they would be reimbursing eligible families for funeral costs of people who died from COVID-19. Although the program isn't open yet, the agency encouraged families to keep documentation of their funeral costs.
- The Attorney General of Ohio has sued President Biden over his $1.9 trillion stimulus package, saying that it limits how states can spend the funding too narrowly and is therefore unconstitutional.
- Throughout the U.S., Asian-American communities and allies are outraged and mourning in the wake of shootings in Atlanta, GA on Wednesday that killed 8 people, 6 of them Asian women. The suspect, Robert Aaron Long, faces several counts of murder and aggravated assault but has not yet been charged with a hate crime. The incident came in the wake of a sharp uptick in violent crimes against Asians during the pandemic.
- A large study just completed in Denmark has confirmed that most people who have COVID-19 are not reinfected, and are protected from the virus for at least six months.
- France is placing several regions into a month-long lockdown, including Paris. Schools will remain open, but not nonessential businesses.
- Despite initial resistance, the Biden Administration has agreed to send 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Mexico and 1.5 million to Canada. The vaccine is not yet approved in the U.S., but has been in dozens of other countries.
- Today the WHO declared Europe's vaccine rollout too slow to curb transmission of the virus. Cases have been steadily rising in Europe for about three weeks, and there are more total deaths on average in the continent now than a year ago
Wednesday March 17 Daily Update
As of Wednesday evening, there are over 120.9 million coronavirus cases and over 2.6 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 29.6 million cases and over 537,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 40,000 people hospitalized in the US.
The U.S. Treasury will extend the tax filing deadline from April 15th until May 17th in light of this year's difficult tax season, as millions of Americans balance unemployment benefits, business loans and grants, and other aid while trying to file their returns. Stimulus checks are not taxable, but some other forms of COVID-19 aid are. The stimulus bill did make the first $10,000 in unemployment benefits tax-exempt for most filers, which will be welcome news for many jobless Americans. You can learn more about the tax announcement in our latest YouTube video.
A bill to extend the Paycheck Protection Program for another two months passed the House earlier today, and is likely to be approved by the Senate. That will give the Small Business Administration time to distribute the billions of dollars remaining in the program. In the meantime, many Community Development Financial Institutions, or CDFIs, are offering support to small business owners as they navigate the pandemic. We have a guide to CDFIs for small business owners up on the blog today.
The rest of today's important coronavirus news is below, and we hope your week is going well.
📌New Grants Have Arrived. Our teams reported on several new grant programs on our app as part of our ongoing grants & loan effort. On our app, click See Grant Opportunities to learn more.
- The EU proposed a COVID-19 "Travel Certificate" today that would allow citizens of member states to travel freely throughout the union if they can prove vaccination. It's expected to be approved and ready for use by summer, and available digitally as well as on paper.
- Homeless Americans, who desperately need stimulus payments, are struggling to access them without a fixed address despite being eligible for the funds.
- Despite general progress on the virus throughout the U.S., cases in the Northeast, particularly New York and New Jersey, remain high. Cases in both states are double the national per capita average.
- Serbia is now leading Europe in vaccinations, after having secured 5 different vaccines for their citizens.
- The CDC is reviewing their guidance that schools keep students 6 feet from one another in areas with high transmission rates and considering changing it, but the American Federation of Teachers, a major teachers' union, is staunchly opposed.
- The Biden Administration has unveiled a $10 billion plan for coronavirus testing in schools. The plan will be administered by the CDC, and will provide funds to both cities and states to screen children.
- Britain's National Health Service is facing a "significant reduction" in vaccine supply which could last up to a month, troubling news for a country already behind on vaccinating their citizens. No new appointments will be available for vaccination in April.
Tuesday March 17 Daily Update
As of Tuesday evening, there are over 120.4 million coronavirus cases and over 2.6 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 29.5 million cases and over 535,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 40,000 people hospitalized in the US.
Many people who received their stimulus checks via direct deposit over the weekend have been unable to access the funds, which were marked as "pending" in their accounts. Most of the payments sent over the weekend should clear tomorrow, according to major banks such as Wells Fargo and Chase. Bank users have complained to their financial institutions about the long wait for funds to process.
The U.S. Senate confirmed Isabel Guzman to lead the Small Business Administration today, welcome news for many small business owners who have waited months for her to take office. Guzman is widely expected to advocate for more funding and support for small business owners through programs like the EIDL and PPP. In the meantime, the SBA announced today that repayments for disaster loans, including COVID-19 EIDLS, have been deferred until 2022. You can learn more about the announcement, and how to apply for a disaster loan, on our latest blog post.
- Moderna has begun testing their vaccine on infants and young children. The Moderna vaccine is currently cleared for ages 18 and older, and is expected to be approved for adolescents soon. It may be cleared for young children by this summer or early fall.
- Some "long-haul" COVID-19 patients have reported that their symptoms improve after getting vaccinated. Scientists don't yet have an explanation for the phenomenon, but "long-haulers" are thrilled.
- A pharmacist in Brooklyn, determined to use his allotment of vaccines for the month, drove around the city to senior centers and the houses of homebound patients to make sure that they got their shots. He vaccinated fifty people in one visit to a senior housing complex.
- Most European countries have now ceased use of the AstrZeneca vaccine over concerns that it causes blood clots, despite the fact that the EU's drug regulator declared it safe. The move has hindered Europe's already faltering inoculation campaign, leaving the continent behind many developed nations.
- Studies are underway for a new at-home treatment for COVID-19: clofazimine, a pill approved by the FDA as a treatment for leprosy.
- The island nation of Papua New Guinea, which has largely avoided COVID-19 until now, has experienced a surge of cases in the last two weeks; almost half of the country's total reported cases (2, 269), have been reported in the last 14 days. The country's Prime Minister, James Marape, called the situation "critical".
- Spring breakers have flocked to Miami Beach, Florida, and hundreds have been arrested over the last few days for flouting social distancing rules. While Florida does have a statewide emergency order due to the virus, the state has no mask mandate and lifted capacity requirements for most businesses.
Monday March 16 Daily Update
As of Monday evening, there are over 120 million coronavirus cases and over 2.6 million deaths worldwide from the virus. The US has over 29.4 million cases and over 534,000 deaths. Currently, there are over 40,000 people hospitalized in the US.
Last night, investment banking giant Goldman Sachs sent a note to clients predicting that the U.S. economy will grow 8% in 2021, the highest estimate yet for the impact of the latest stimulus package. If the prediction is correct, it will be the largest single-year growth for the U.S. economy since 1951, and also would mean that the economy will completely recover from the 4% loss it suffered in 2020.
In addition to individual stimulus checks (which have already reached millions of Americans), the U.S. stimulus package includes monthly payments of hundreds of dollars to parents through an expansion of the Child Tax Credit. Learn more about the payments and when they will arrive with our latest blog post.
The rest of today's important coronavirus news is below, and we hope your week is off to a great start.
📌 New Grants Have Arrived. We've Our teams reported on several new grant programs on our app as part of our ongoing grants & loan effort. On our app, click See Grant Opportunities to learn more.
- Parents around the U.S. are protesting continued school closures, with hundreds hitting the streets in Illinois and California.
- Since the start of the pandemic, 4 million people are estimated to have left the U.S. labor force. These people are not counted as part of the country's unemployment rate. Most left due to childcare concerns, while others retired early or simply stopped looking for a job due to the country's tough job market.
- Facebook is unveiling new tools to help users find vaccine clinics near them. The tools will also be available on Instagram, which Facebook owns.
- Thousands of COVID-19 vaccine doses have gone to waste in the U.S. due to record-keeping and temperature control issues; the full number remains unknown.
- While under observation after receiving his COVID-19 vaccine in the Berkshires in Massachusetts, renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma gave an impromptu, masked concert. He played, among other songs, Bach's prelude in G major and "Ave Maria".
- Public health data released this weekend shows that there was a major outbreak of COVID-19 at Tesla's factory in Fremont, California. Tesla CEO Elon Musk reopened the factory in May, despite local restrictions that ordered him to keep it closed.
- According to CDC analysis, 96% of patients have received both doses of their COVID-19 vaccine on time. One of the major concerns from experts during the vaccine rollout was that patients would only receive one dose.